Tiny memory, tiny drive: ArizonaState researchers have crafted a new memory technology, programmable metallization cell (PMC), that stores information in a fundamentally different way from flash -- instead of storing bits as an electronic charge, the technology creates nanowires from copper atoms the size of a virus to record the data. It should rank in at about one-tenth the cost and a thousand times more efficient than flash memory. And it's so simple: When the technology writes a binary 1, it builds a nanowire bridge between two electrodes; if you want a 0, then don't build a crossing. The scientists promise that this technique will eliminate the stability problem that flash memory demonstrates as it becomes smaller in stature. In fact, they think that within a few years, terabyte-capacity thumb-sized drives could be a reality.
But will it work with a palm-sized Blue Gene?: Michael Zaiser, professor/researcher at EdinburghU's School of EE thinks we are only 10 years away from palm-sized supercomputers (and that his research into nanowires will help make that transition). He's been studying why nanowires react differently even when placed under the same amount of pressure (which makes it tough to line them up close together for production purposes) and he's discovered that if you separate the interior material of wire into distinct groups, the wire can't react as a whole and it makes them easier to impose uniform behavior on the bunch.
What's this got to do with small supercomputers? The smaller the wire inside the chip, the smaller the chip. The smaller the chip, the smaller the unit. Now all they've got to do is solve that pesky tiny-level thermal fluctuation issue.